Electricity woes: Is this KESC versus SSGC or Karachi versus Lahore?

Published: May 28, 2013
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As Saddar faces power cuts, some shopkeepers have to use small generators to light their shops at night. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

We all expected it. We all knew that with the election of the Punjab government, Karachi would have to pay the price – like it always has.

I don’t plan on venting my frustration out on Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), because honestly speaking, they have done a marvelous job, from not only reducing the electricity crisis tremendously if not eradicating it, to removing illegal hooks and providing free electricity to several hospitals and school in the city.

KESC actually convinced everyone to follow an energy conservation program by running their air conditioners at 26 degrees and switching off appliances and not keeping them on standby. As I sweated throughout the weekend, not knowing when the power would go out again, a few thoughts floated to my mind.

Firstly, I want to convey that the problem does not lie with KESC.

As the summer heat rages, protests against KESC – violent protests in which their buildings and people are targeted – are inevitable. Although I don’t blame people for their very valid anger and frustration, all I want is for them to be objective or rather realistic.

Karachiites, you must understand where the problem lies; the loadshedding you are facing at the moment is due to the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), not KESC.

So, the situation is something like this. KESC has given SSGC Rs42billion and purchased gas worth Rs41 billion. According to the court’s ruling, KESC should be getting 276mm CFD of gas. However, it only receives 120mm CFD of gas – less than half of what it is due. The largest city of Pakistan, sustaining an already crumbling economy, gets less than 50% of what it’s supposed to get!

You can easily guess where the rest is going!

KESC is filing a contempt of court case against SSGC, but then that’s all they can do. A private organisation cannot fight against the courts, gas companies as well as those in power. The drastic reduction in gas supply has forced KESC to create an artificial system of increased loadshedding. The fight between KESC and SSGC may be long but at the end it’s the people of Karachi who lose, like they have on many other fronts.

It has been said that KESC and SSGC officials exchanged hot words over the issue of payment, but the governor intervened.

Now, “KESC officials have assured that industrial areas would be exempted from load-shedding. This means power supply will be back to normal.”

Government issues aside, the reaction of people on the social media left me stunned. I understand the painful loadshedding in Lahore, especially in this heat, and I can empathise with the people because I’ve gone through it myself.

However, I never celebrate or revel in the misery of those suffering in Lahore.

 

Before KESC was privatised, life was hell and even a few years after its privatisation it wasn’t any better. Only since the past two years has the situation come under control – well somewhat under control. If people in other places want to compete their crisis to that of Karachi’s, they must remember that Karachi was dark when the entire country shone bright.

One of the directors at SSGC along with many civilians now feel that Karachi and Lahore are equal.

Seriously, those advocating equality by sharing loadshedding as a measure of comparison forget the tumultous life people of Karachi are living here. Nearly a dozen people are killed everyday for absolutely no reason at all, the growing influence of
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the ever increasing no-go areas in Karachi, the political and sectarian violence have reached record level. Life is already hell for those living in Karachi.

Such problems are only heard of and not experienced by those happy about the loadshedding in Karachi; they do not realise that such living circumstances are much darker than darkness left by power outages.

Just because one area is suffering from a particular crisis that doesn’t mean another city should be burdened with a problem it was trying to solve. I was really disappointed by people’s comments. Let alone struggling to compete with other countries, we are now unnecessarily competing within ourselves, and celebrating a loss which will inadvertently affect the entire country?

Power and energy crisis should take precedence over all other prevalent issues in the country. Surely, this crisis cannot be solved by diverting gas unfairly, illegally and maliciously from other cities. The government must take required action.

That said, KESC has improved tremendously. When we saw the railway go to the dogs, the airlines losing its marbles and security becoming a joke, the only relief we had was power for most of the day, if not throughout.

All we can do as citizens is to upgrade our backup systems and not burn our own streets and attack KESC workers, because that’s just going to make our situation worse.

Let’s pray for a united Pakistan; let’s pray for a brighter Pakistan.

Will the power crisis be resolved during the PML-N government's reign?

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Maheen Sheikh

Maheen Sheikh

Currently studying law at SOAS, University of London and aspiring to become an advocate. Maheen loves reading, writing and yoga. She participates in charity work on the weekends and tweets @MaheenIshaikh (twitter.com/MaheenIshaikh).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Proud Pakistani

    @True Karachiwala:
    FYI Theft is not only in katchi abdis but its even done in well build societies! In one of teh societies there are so many people who are paying only Rs 6000 per month to the KESC for unlimited electricity for over an year now!!..Just because they dunn have new meters installed
    this how efficient KESC is!!Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    @aaaaa: Karachi figure no.one in migration from all over Pakistan. These deprived people who come here for make a living cant pay for electricity bills, therefore with all other people they too have big share in theft. Not to forget our brothers Afghans who were brought here in Karachi bypassing Punjab(thanks to all powerfull Anti Karachi establishment) are simply going scot free in every aspect of civic life amenities.

    Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    @Proud Pakistani: This is not about MQM or PLM N or anybody else. If you want to gom this way, let’s be it:

    Best CM in Pakistan signed 18th amendment allowing each province to have first right to use over natural reources
    400 billions burnt in Sasti Roti Scheme, which was economucally impossible (you ate sasti roti and we just kept watching, did not grudge, neither shouted.after all you are our countrymen)
    You show cased laptops knowing that there is no power, but shrewd CM diverted your attention by getting you lash pash laptops
    You participated in Festivals being ignorant of darkness around you
    You are commuting in comfortable airconditioned Metro Buses while we are hanging ourself to work and college in yellow demons(mini buses)
    CM gave you solar bulbs, you happily took them

    Bro, this money could d have been spent on power generation or purchase from India or Iran (offer was on table), but priorities were simply not right ! Lets put pressure on every political party to solve this problem.

    Please analyse factors that motivated you to elect PML NRecommend

  • Karachi Son

    @True Karachiwala
    Very well said my friend.
    These migrants are leeches who are sucking the blood out Karachi. They turned a once beautiful city with a great life style into a Somalia. We are foreigners in our own land.Recommend

  • Some Pakistani

    @Tahira Farooq:
    Difference between Karachi and other cities is KESC has its own Power Plants with a 2000MW Generation Capacity

    Other Cities in Pakistan are totally dependent on WAPDA
    Even large cities like Lahore dont have self generation and we can blame GUNJA BROTHERS for not taking steps and commissioning power plants under LESCO Recommend

  • Mystic

    Typical oppression crying. Punjab government has nothing to do with SSGC or KESC, and still the blame goes there.. to a government which has not even formed.

    We’ll see this for the next five years. After electing bhatta khors and wadairas, all problems of Karachi would seem to originate from Lahore. Recommend

  • Sane

    Electricity is now a luxury as far as its cost is concerned. Many people are unable to afford the cost, therefore have no option but resort to theft. If our governments shall make necessity as luxury this may happen for other services and commodities as well including food.Recommend

  • Munda Pakistani

    For all Karachi lovers & residents,

    we in lahore have suffered a routine load shedding of 12 hours whether its summer or winter. in the hot weather of May with 50 celsius, our kids have suffered a 22 hours load shedding in a day. i have witnessed a Zero load shedding at Gulshan & DHA Karachi in the month of April when entire punjab is suffering with the crises.

    Is only Karachi has a right on sindh’s gas, then they don’t have any 750 MW of electricity provided by Wapda to KESC, wheat & rises provided by Punjab & water from interior sindh and baluchistan.

    Does karachi can afford above level of power crises, never. I am constrained to think that this karachivies behavior was also responsible for east pakistan crises.Recommend

  • Omer

    @Maaz:
    Well said buddy, just wish you were here when only Karachi suffered loadshedding.Recommend

  • Mystic

    Lahore suffered up to 18 hours of load shedding, while no one said anything about Karachi enjoying electricity for most of the day.

    Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    @Mystic:
    @Munda Pakistani:

    Come on guys ! be realistic. All the answers from Karachi are friendly, balanced and based on real sitaution & facts and figures.

    No one can deny the sufferings of our brothers and sisters specially of labour class due this power crisis.

    But Karachi and KESC are not responsible for that. IT NEEDS TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY EVERY ONE. KARACHI IS A CITY WHOSE POWER NEEDS ARE MET BY A PRIVATE COMPANY KESC WHICH HAS ITS OWN POWER PLANTS, IT ALSO “PURCHASES” FROM OTHER PRODUCERS. STILL THERE IS LOAD SHEDDING IN KARACHI CORRESPONDING TO THE RECOVERY. GREATER THE RECOVERY, LESSER THE LOAD SHEDDING AND VICE VERSA.*

    We are part of same body, if one part is in pain the rest of body will also suffer. I am sure when killings are going on in Karachi, rest of Pakistan also goes through the same agony as a Karachiite does. Recommend

  • Saad riaz

    Proud pakistani we thanked u too when textile industry was closing in Karachi and was moving to faisalabad as karachi was burning and government did nothing about it.Recommend

  • Johnny

    Dear Writer ,
    i am astonished to see that prejudice has been penetrated in all our veins . have u ever come in Punjab we suffer 3 days gas load shedding and 12 hour Electric shortage even in winters ,,, and summers are night mare we pay all taxes but still whole country blame us thats we are exploiting them. that’s all happened when PPP came in power during their Regime you people Enjoyed a lot now Its our Turn “” Tit For Tat” Recommend

  • Sharjeel

    This Piece of writing is entirely baised and based on facts purely being presented in favor of Karachi vs the rest of the Pakistan, Where Karachi now faces 14 hours of loadshedding, the rest of Pakistan has been facing this issues for the last five years. The writer herself acknowledged that the electircity issue had been resolved in the past two years and now only are we facing loadshedding after the new government. On the other hand, We be it from Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta or any other city, have faced loashedding reqularly on the average of 12 hours a day for the past 5 years. This means that the Previous Government was baised with Karachi and now only is Karachi facing the issue equally like the rest of the country. As far as Voilence is concerned, no sane minded person can say that because Karachi is sharing the electricity with the rest of the country, it should also share its crime and target killings and murders with the rest of the Pakistan too. I mean come on, isn’t there already enough of division among us Pakistani’s that we have reached to this limit. We already had a discrimination of a Poor Class and then a Mummy Daddy/Burger/Urban Class. And now we have KHI vs LHR, or Sindh Vs. Punjab, or Sindh vs the Rest of Pakistan. Where will this end??? Recommend

  • http://ahtiazhar.wordpress.com Ahtesham Azhar (Karachi based Journalist)

    I think writer really do not know about the real facts and oppression of KESC for its consumers and employees. So far KESC has terminated above 7,000 breadwinner of families, some of them also committed suicide due to massive finical crisis. Moreover, KESC is now private company but it takes subsidy of 72 billion rupees from our government. KESC do not even pay electricity supply charges, which it take from WAPDA on daily basis (650MW). Besides these KESC increase tariff on quarterly basis. KESC do average and theft billing on monthly basis at localities, where literacy rate is very low so that no one could catch them. Recommend

  • papi

    //When the tragic reality is that inspite of having the lowest rate of theft/default as compared to the other provinces,Punjab has been made to suffer the most load shedding.Karachi has a high rate of theft/default but still gets no load shedding at all in half the city.Whereas people in Punjab having lowest theft/default are made to suffer 20 hours load shedding daily.//

    Mohd.Fahad, if it were not for illegal migrants from upcountry who keep flocking to karachi and grab land, steal electricity and water and rape and pillage Karachi’s resources as well as get involved in crime, the rate of theft would be much lower. Karachi pays all the taxes which are stolen by Punjab. There is no agricultural tax in Pakistan so majority in Punjab don’t pay any tax at all. People in Pakistan would starve if Karachites stop paying any taxes.Recommend

  • Adnan Ahmed

    And thats the reason Karachi will stay with MQM…
    PTI acted as a National party and people can now see their stance against us, and Imran Khan has an history for being a anti Karachi.
    ANP leader Mr Zahid Khan also wants Karachi to be in dark.
    PML (N) already working on to darken Karachi.Recommend

  • Zahrah

    @Tahira Farooq:
    Karachi is also the backbone of this country. Whatever industries/businesses etc Punjab has CANNOT function if Karachi is out of electricity. And while we are on the topic of ‘discriminating’ Punjab let’s not forget the discrimination Karachi has faced when it comes to law and order, target killings, bomb blasts. Yes, people from Karachi face little or no load shedding but we also have the tendency to pay our bills ;)
    Stop whining about Power cuts when we have people dying everyday for no reason.
    Cheers :)Recommend

  • Ramsha Rizvi

    @Maryam: On the contrary, she urged for the need of a unified Pakistan close to the end of the writing.Recommend